Deepfake Technology: Everything You Need to Know

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Deepfake technology is a rapidly evolving AI-based technology that can be used to create realistic fake videos and audio recordings. 

This technology has a wide range of potential applications, from creating realistic special effects for movies, to being used for political propaganda.

In this article, we’ll be answering all your questions about deepfake technology. We’ll cover everything from how it works to its implications and future applications. 

So, if you’re curious about this cutting-edge technology– keep reading!

What Is Deepfake Technology?

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Deepfakes are a highly advanced form of video editing. The technology allows you to modify an image or video to make it significantly different from the source material.

Deepfakes are typically focused on modifying human expressions, speech, or motion. Most of the early deepfake programs and implementations were focused on facial expressions and speech.

However, today there are deepfake technologies that also apply to the rest of the body!

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The history of deepfake technology begins with the application of it to speech, syncing lip movements automatically to a new audio track.  This was done in the Video Rewrite project as early as 1997.

Deepfakes are incredibly powerful in this way. Rather than requiring many hours of human labor to achieve this effect, the new footage is produced almost completely independently by the machine.

How Does Deepfake Technology Work?

Deepfake technology uses existing video footage to construct a new video.  It does this by use of a neural network.

Images and video are provided to the neural network, which then uses this data to generate a new video with the desired effect.

Some deepfake technologies combine this with a competing process that attempts to recognise the deepfake as it is produced.

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This means that if the deepfake is not convincing, it is caught early in production and improved by the neural network before being continued.

What Are The Implications Of Deepfake Technology?

Deepfake technology is incredibly powerful, and can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. Just like any technology, its advantages and disadvantages are both significant.

There are several benevolent uses of the technology.  As one example, digital reconstruction of actors or people who have died is possible using the technology.

Deepfake techniques are still slow to be introduced to the film industry, but as they improve and are more accepted they could allow for a wide range of alterations and improvements to film.

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However, deepfakes get the most press for their negative use.  

Because the technology is advancing so quickly, it can be incredibly difficult to tell the difference between a real video and a deepfake.

This means that people can post fake videos of celebrities, political figures, or anyone else to the internet that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

Deepfake technology is also concerning as it can be used for blackmail or fraud.  For example: By using deepfake technology, someone could create a compromising video of you, or impersonate someone else while conducting an online transaction!

How Can I Tell If A Video Is A Deepfake?

Distinguishing between a deepfake and real video can be difficult.  However, there are some tricks you can use to help.

If you are watching a live video feed (such as in a video meeting) that you suspect is being altered by deepfake technology, you can ask the participant to turn their head to the side, or to wave their hands around in front of their face.

Doing so disrupts the deepfake algorithm and will likely produce some visible oddities in the video stream.

However, most deepfakes are not used on live video, and these techniques don’t work for pre-recorded videos.

Deepfake technology typically falls over on the small things. Examining the video for any unnatural eye movements, strange expressions, discrepancies in teeth appearance (and so on) can reveal a deepfake.

Deepfake technology can also be identified if the video looks too perfect; no strands of hair out of place, for example, or there’s a sheen-like quality to the skin of the person in the video.

Additionally, if noises such as coughing, sneezing, and so on are present in the video, it’s possible that these will not sync well with the deepfake technology, and so they can be used to determine authenticity as well.

Finally, if you really want to check whether a video is a deepfake or not, you can use a reverse image search on your platform of choice.

Take a frame of the video and reverse image search it. This will allow you to find any similar stills, and hopefully help you to confirm or deny whether the video is real.

This technique isn’t perfect, as there is no way (yet) to “reverse video search”- but it should bring up some relevant content!

Are There Any Examples Of Deepfake Technology In Use?

Yes!  Deepfake technology has been used in recent years for several purposes, and this shows no sign of stopping.

In film, Star Wars’s Rogue One used deepfake-related techniques to construct Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Leia.

Deepfake technology has also been used to de-age actors in films, and to protect the identity of people in documentaries such as Welcome To Chechnya.

In politics, one of the most recent examples of deepfake technology in use is a video that was created of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which showed him telling Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms during the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Deepfakes were also used during the 2020 US election to produce videos of candidate Joe Biden falling asleep during an interview.

Additionally, deepfake technology has also been used to simulate political figures saying various things for satirical purposes, such as in the series Sassy Justice.

In a different sphere, researchers have shown that deepfakes can be used to alter medical scans, successfully doing so by injecting an image of lung cancer into a patient scan, which was unable to be distinguished by radiologists.

This is quite different from the typical application of deepfakes, and shows the potential power of the technology – and what it can do in the wrong hands.

In Conclusion

Deepfakes are a new and very powerful technology for video editing.  

The implications of the technology are both beneficial and concerning, and it’s still yet to be seen what the full effects of the technology will have on our world.

Although there are many ways deepfakes can be used maliciously, it is possible to tell these videos apart from real ones by looking at finer details in the video.

Deepfakes can also be used in ways that benefit the population, so it’s not all doom and gloom!  

As the technology continues to develop, we’ll likely see it present in more of our video-based entertainment.


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